Fighting the Cranky

Partly because it was the first week back in the office after a fair amount of travel and partly for reasons I don’t want to get into here, last week was a somewhat rough week in the office, and by the end of it, I was CRANKY (really cranky).

Being cranky at the office is usually not the best way to endear oneself to one’s co-workers, however, so the crankiness must be battled. Some of my tried-and-true cranky-fighting methods are: ranting via Facebook message to my friends I know will get it (you know who you are. Thank you); hiding in my office until the bad mood passes (not always possible, alas); going for a short walk around campus; watching our annual report video and finally, new shoes:

(The new shoes trick needs to be used sparingly, of course, or I will soon go broke).

What are your mood-lifters for those tough work days?

Mid-Year Resolutions

I generally don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Having lived most of my life on an academic calendar, January feels like the middle, not the beginning, of the year to me so I don’t much care about New Year’s.

Once July and August roll around, however, it starts to feel like a beginning. After all, the new semester starts 5 weeks from today and what’s more of a beginning than a shiny new semester? Thus, mid-year resolutions!

  1. Spend more time away from my desk and moving. I spent two weeks in Germany in June and we just returned from our annual week in Wisconsin. Both of these trips involved a lot of walking and I loved it. Here in Kansas City, I spend way too much time sitting — either at my desk or in the car. While the weather is still nice, I plan to spend more time outside walking.
  2. Get back into a regular exercise routine (something I haven’t had since leaving Texas). Related to the above, I noticed in both Germany and Wisconsin that walking up any kind of incline winded me — even more than when I was a smoker. Next year I want to climb Eagle Trail without huffing and puffing all over the place.IMG_1045
  3. Stop losing my temper in airports. Nothing (other than AT&T “customer service.” But I got rid of them) makes me lose my temper faster than being in an airport. After melting down a bit in Stuttgart last month, I am determined to cultive a Zen sensibility for flying.
  4. Jazz up my classes. I’m teaching two old standbys this fall and am looking for ways to tweak them to make them more interesting for me and my students. I’ve got five weeks to finish my syllabi and hopefully come up with great ideas.

That’s my list for my “new” year. I’m hoping they stick, and invite y’all to keep me accountable via comments, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

What about you? Do you make mid-year resolutions? If so, what are they? Are you able to keep them?


And I’m Off!

Currently, I am sitting at the airport with my overstuffed carry-on waiting to board my flight to Newark.

From Newark, it’s on to Stuttgart, Germany, and then Tübingen, where I will spend the next two weeks taking part in a Fulbright seminar for American faculty who teach things German. Oh, and admiring views like this:

To say I’m excited would be an understatement. It’s a packed schedule, but I am hoping to have some time to blog, so watch this space for travel updates (and photos, of course!).

Sick Days

Here’s the thing — I generally don’t get really sick. Sure, I get a cold or flu once or twice per year — and for a while, I had a persistent stomach thing that seems to have cleared itself up. But for the most part, I am the kind of person who always have a ridiculous amount of sick leave built up because I don’t take that many sick days — and when I am down with a cold, I take a day or two off, and then pump myself with DayQuil and head back to work.

IMG_0557-1About a week ago, though, I came down with bronchitis AND an ear infection (yes, an ear infection. I had no ideas adults also got them. Not many to apparently as the WebMD article on them consistently refers to “your child”). I have never had bronchitis (the sickest I have previously been was when I had strep throat 6 years ago) and had always assumed that is was just like having a bad cold. Well, I was wrong — there is no comparison (other than the coughing and stuffiness) — as I said above, I’ve always been able to work through colds. Not this, however — today is Saturday and I have been wiped out for the last nine days — I did go in to work on one of those days, which was a mistake as I accomplished nothing.

Why am I telling you all of this, you may wonder? (Especially if we’re Facebook friends as you’ve been subjected to my whining about this for the last week or so). Well, as you know if you hang around here often, I like to make lists of what I’ve learned from something (see my previous post). Without further ado, then, here is what I’ve learned from having bronchitis:

The Protestant Work Ethic is alive and well — and as messed up as always. I queried folks on Facebook about whether they would go teach with a diagnosis of bronchitis and ear infection. While most said no, a few said yes, pump yourself up with meds and go ahead. Oddly, it’s the folks who are involved in people-contact professions who were most likely to say “go in.” I did end up canceling one class and cutting another short, but damn, if I didn’t feel guilty about it.

It is possible for me to not work and the world not come to an end. I know, I know, I’m 46 years old so should know this already. And yet, I still went into a panic at the thought of being sick, especially at the end of the semester. At first I thought I would be able to work a bit and keep up, but was soon disabused of that notion and so have done very little other than respond to a few emails and grade a few papers over the last 9 days. And you know what? No one has died. I am behind, but it will get done eventually. Or it won’t get done. And it’s all okay. I have a great staff who are keeping things going at the Women’s Center — and my students are doing just fine. I am really not that important —  and it’s good to be reminded of that now and then.

I am capable of being quiet for a long time. Anyone who know me, knows that I am a big ol’ extrovert who talks quite a bit. The lack of energy, though, has caused me to more or less shut down — to the point where my husband said to me last night that he’ll be glad “when I’m back” — as if I’m away on a trip (which in a way, I suppose I am).

Twitter is the best sick time reading. 140 characters was all I could handle for a while 🙂

My husband and friends are awesome. I have been a pain in rear throughout this — while rarely getting super sick is in most respects a good thing, one of the problems with it is that I really suck at being sick. I’m impatient and miserable and happy to share that misery with everyone. So to all of you who have been patient with me over the last week or so, thank you. I promise to try to learn how to be better at this in the future (although I am hoping not to need it).

Finally, but most importantly, I am damn lucky to have a job with paid sick leave. So far I have taken six days off from work — and I have not had to worry about how I would pay my bills or whether I would have a job to go back to. This puts me in a privileged minority given how many folks (part-time workers, nannies, restaurant workers, etc., etc.) do not have access to paid leave. It is an absolute scandal that the U.S. does not have decent sick leave laws to protect workers and the public. I used to wait tables and if I’d been this sick, my options would have been go to work and infect the public — or take off and lose my pay (and potentially my job). And this is true for most food workers. Think about that for a second. Do you really want a waitress with bronchitis serving your food? It’s crazy.

Things I Learned in Vancouver

Last week, my friend Shaun and I took our Alt Academix show on the road to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver where we gave two workshops. Here, for no reason other than I feel like sharing, is a list of some of the things I learned.

Vancouver is super pretty. I mean ridiculously pretty. I mean unfair-to-those-of-us-who-don’t-live-there pretty. Water AND mountains? This KC girl is envious.

View of the bay and mountains from the UBC campus

View of the bay and mountains from the UBC campus

The Chinese restaurants are authentic. Yes, that is a heart in my duck soup. No, I was not expecting it.


Waiter, there’s a heart in my soup!

The UBC Museum of Anthropology is awesome.

IMG_0473This stall in the Granville Island Public Market is reason enough for me to pack my bags and move to Vancouver

That is an amazing display of pâté

That is an amazing display of pâté

Doing two 3-hour workshops in one day is hell on one’s legs and feet. But we had great students, faculty, and staff to work with, so the time flew.

Vancouverites (??) are a polite lot, who thank the bus driver when exiting the bus, regardless of the door they are using. It is a bit disconcerting the first time someone yells “thank you!” from the back of the bus as I had no idea to whom they were speaking.

Finally, did I mention that Vancouver is pretty? Because it is.


I also learned some serious things about higher education and graduate students — but this post is not about that, so will share those later.